MADISON (WKOW) -- We all know about ways to prevent the flu but what about a new app to track it? University of Wisconson-Madison officials launched that program, called 'Out SmartFlu,' this week.
"I think we're the only ones doing this using smart phones, and sort of a closed network like a campus," Population Health Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Ajay Sethi says.
The app asks users about their health through a series of simple questions. "We aggregate that to count the number of people who have symptoms that are consistent with influenza like illness," Sethi says. That information will be posted for the public.
Sethi says the CDC already tracks the flu based on clinic visits but this method could provide better and faster results. "By time that system is able to pick up an epidemic, it's usually two weeks after the spread has already occurred so it's kind of nice to have a system in place that allows us to pick up flu transmission earlier," he says.
They're getting the word out through social media and volunteers on the ground. WKOW headed to a crowded Union Memorial Terrace to get student feedback first hand.
"I think it's pretty cool. I think it's a neat idea. I'll be interested to follow and kind of see how it evolves on campus," UW-Madison senior Natalie Porter says. Sophomore Craig Fischer is also on board with the app. "I think its a good thing that you can track it and take precaution when like you know there's a wave of illness in the city," he tells 27 News.
We did talk to some students who say they're not interested in downloading the app but for those who are, click here. Dr. Sethi says no numbers have been crunched yet. So far, they've only had one person report flu-like symptoms.